Daymond John On His ‘Powershift Principle’

If you’ve ever been dragged into a negotiation with your three-year-old daughter, you probably have some idea of how that opening scene shook out. (Far as I know, there’s no photographic evidence of me wearing that princess tiara, so I’ll just leave it at that.)

This much is clear: Right now, in our family, Minka’s got power. Even at three years old, she’s figured out—mostly through trial and error and some foot stomping—that if she picks a strategy, then follows a certain sequence of steps, she can almost always get her way. It might take a tantrum, followed by a sweet, knowing smile. Or it might call for a perfectly timed hug when I’m least expecting it. Either way, she’ll eventually wear me down.

And she knows it. She knows she can get what she wants from me—and I guess it follows that one of the reasons I’m so quick to cave when she pours it on thick like this is be­cause I know it, too. We’ve fallen into a kind of default pattern where Minka’s strengths as a negotiator bump up against my weaknesses as a big old softie.

Keep in mind, it’s not just me, jumping to Minka’s whims. She’s got a different approach for her mother, for her nanny, for everyone in her little life. She reads the room and changes her game depending on the players, depend­ing on the situation.

Minka’s figured out what works all on her own—because, just saying, there’s no Mommy & Me class on ne­gotiation strategies, no playgroup to help her learn to push her daddy’s buttons. However, there is the benefit of expe­rience, and here my little girl is smart enough to know that if a certain type of behavior gets results on Day One there’s a good chance it’ll work again on Day Next.

There’s only one way I know of to transform this dy­namic: through a concept I call powershift.

Related: The 6 Books Shark Tank’s Daymond John Wants You to Read

Let me tell you about the powershift and how I’ve come to embrace the concept behind it.

In my previous books, I’ve written about a couple prin­ciples that have powered me in my career. Early on, back when I was starting FUBU out of my mother’s house in

Hollis, Queens, it was all about making things happen without any money. That’s the “power of broke”—a power I tapped at an early age, and I still reach for it today.

Then, once I was coming up in the world of fashion and starting to see some success, I was all about the hustle: work­ing hard, pushing through, and sticking to a game plan. Back then it was: How early do you get at it each day, and how late do you keep at it . . . and, even more important, how do you fill the time in between? That’s the power of “rise and grind,” the take-charge mindset that drives our days.

But one of the things I’m realizing lately is that none of the blessings or successes that have come my way would have happened without the ability to shift power—from other people to myself, from myself to other people, from one area of strength to an­other whole new area of strength. Those shifts pow­ered the trajectory of my life and career, but I haven’t written about them in my previous books because I didn’t identify them for what they were until recently. But you better believe they’re a big part of how I got where I am today. And now I want to share them with you.

Whenever I sit down to write a new book, I pay atten­tion to what I’m hearing from my readers, who reach out to me on social media or connect with me after one of my speeches or through my online courses. With Rise and Grind, for example, people wanted to know how I structure my days and where I look for motivation, so I spent some time looking at ways truly successful people organize their time and kick their ambition into drive. Here, I kept hearing from people who wanted some guidance on how to build the kind of foundation they need to achieve, sustain, and grow their power base, so I’ve spent some time looking at the ways I’ve managed to do these things in my own life and career. Like I said, some of this stuff came naturally to me, in the beginning, but as I moved on I started looking at ways to replicate that success as I pivoted into other areas, away from FUBU and fashion. This book is the result of all that. It’s my take on what it takes to find the power in the room, in any situation, and to put it to use in a meaningful and lasting way.

Related: Daymond John: 5 Reasons Why Education Is the Key to Your Success

So here at the very beginning of our journey in these pages, let me put it to you plain: What is stopping you from achieving the success you desire, the success you believe you deserve? It’s a simple question, really, and you don’t need me to be the one asking it. You should be asking it of yourself. Maybe you already are. Maybe that’s why you’ve picked up this book. Don’t know about you, but I look at all the people I’ve known in my life, all the people I’ve left behind in the ’hood, all the people I’ve met who are still struggling to find a purposeful path, and I can’t understand why they’re still making excuses for being stuck or disappointed or over­looked for this or that opportunity. Obviously, they’re not all making excuses, but trust me, I hear a lot of woe-is-me type stories. And when I do, I can’t help but think, Hey, if my dumb ass can make it, anybody can, so here I want to shine a light on how to find that extra gear and put everything into play in a way that allows readers to tap their powershift potential.

This ability to turn every situation to some kind of ad­vantage is hardwired in all of us. The key is learning how to recognize and tap into that power that you already have within you. This book will deconstruct this process for you and show you exactly how to do it.

Me, I was a little late figuring it all out. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t using that power. I was using it all right, but it was a hit-or-miss type deal. As a kid, I was always able to get what I needed from my teachers, my friends in the neighbor­hood, and the other kids at school . . . from my bosses, even, once I started punching the clock. (My mother was a whole other story—she never let me get away with anything, was always on my case, but out of all that she taught me how to work all these other relationships to some kind of advan­tage.) I wasn’t being calculating or manipulative; I was just doing my thing. For whatever reason, I had this knack for making things happen, and it almost always happened for me in a seat-of-the-pants way. It was organic, instinctive: I never went to business school. I never went to college. Even high school was difficult for me. I came from a tough neigh­borhood. I struggled with dyslexia. And I wanted to learn about things beyond the basic subjects taught in school; things that were happening in the real world, outside the four walls of the classroom. The School of Life was where I learned how to get the edge I’m talking about. For that, I was able to tap something that was already in me, and I’ve come to believe this same something lies in each one of us.

Bottom line: I had power . . . and you have it, too. It’s innate to our species, this ability we all share to put ourselves in a position to succeed—a basic sur­vival instinct that’s built into our personalities. Trouble is, most of us don’t recognize this ability to transform our own outcomes for what it is, or fig­ure out how to use it in ways that move us forward.

Eventually, I figured it out. But then, as I moved on in my career, taking on newer and bigger challenges, I wanted to understand it, perhaps even replicate it. So I looked back at the choices I made, the approaches I took, hoping to maybe learn something from the making-it-up-as-I-go-along ways I’ve gotten to where I am today—not just to help myself with whatever came next, but to help other people as well. So what I hope to do in the pages ahead is break the power­shift idea down in such a way that you’ll come away from this book even better positioned to take on your next chal­lenge and make changes in your life, immediately.


POWERSHIFT /pou(Ə)r • shift/

1. Taking control and creating moments of true change that allow you to live a happier, more fulfilled life

2. Tapping into your ability to build influence, to nego­tiate for the things you need and want, and to nurture your relationships to take you where you want to go

Excerpt from POWERSHIFT by Daymond John with Daniel Paisner, copyright © 2020 by Daymond John. Used by permission of Currency, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher

POWERSHIFT is out March 10.

Coronavirus Home Testing Kits Are Coming to Seattle

It might soon be much easier and safer to determine if someone has been infected by the novel coronavirus. The team behind a Gates Foundation-backed project told the Seattle Times that it’s preparing to deliver home testing kits for the virus to Seattle (where the infection rate has been relatively high) within the “coming weeks.” Potential patients swab their noses and send the samples back to a lab for study, with results ready in one to two days. If someone is infected, they can fill out an online questionnaire to determine their contact and travel habits in case officials need to notify anyone else that they might have the virus.

The test will let people stay at home and reduce the chances of spreading the virus. At the same time, it could also improve the turnaround by processing large numbers of tests in a relatively short space of time. The Gates Foundation’s Scott Dowell estimated that the lab will handle about 400 tests per day to start, but should eventually handle “thousands” per day.

The test is the offshoot of a University of Washington initiative that was originally meant to track infectious diseases like the flu.

As TechCrunch pointed out, this might not be the only home test kit in the pipeline. Health entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg is in talks with a manufacturer to develop a low-cost home testing kit that could use a swab, freeze-dried reagents (to amplify DNA) and a colorimetric readout through a mobile app. However, the Gates-backed tech could already go a long way toward measuring the scale of the coronavirus outbreak and, ideally, preventing its spread.

Process Excellence and Customer Satisfaction: Can Disruptors Have Both?

Google, Tesla, YouTube and Beyond Meat: what do these innovative companies have in common? They all originated as market ‘disruptors’ – a term coined in 1995 by an American academic. Clayton Christensen described ‘disruptive innovation’ as a service, product or process that displaced existing market leaders, eventually overtaking them at the forefront of their respective sectors. Twenty-five years on and ‘disruptors’ have become synonymous with startups offering creative answers to social, environmental, technological and political problems, or put simply: peoples’ needs.

Finding creative, customer-centric solutions to day-to-day challenges are at the heart of disruptive innovation. Naturally, however, growing a business goes hand-in-hand with operational challenges and subsequent growing pains – things like regulation and compliance; balancing the books; scaling sustainably and finding the most efficient processes are all inevitable logistic obstacles.

A company that is operationally sound typically has efficient and effective processes that deliver consistent results, otherwise known as ‘process excellence’. This means when a business taps into something that works, it can repeatedly achieve a successful outcome.

Focusing on process excellence is essential to performance, but it also has the potential to shift the central vision of a company away from the customer. In some cases, this leads to negative customer experiences and dissatisfaction. Strategically balancing time and resources between customer-experience and process excellence is a challenge, but whether you’re a team of 20 or 20,000, it is possible for disruptors to master both.

Here are five tips to simultaneously achieve process excellence and customer satisfaction:
1. Know your processes

Process mapping is not as technical as it sounds – it can be done through a software solution or even on paper – and applies across a broad process landscape. For example, onboarding, customer interactions and even how a business aligns executive strategy with its operations can be mapped. Although, there are some key factors to keep in mind when process mapping to ensure the most efficient and optimal version of the process is recorded. These include:

Consulting the right people running the process to collect their feedback on how it can be improved
Checking the supporting documents necessary for the successful completion of end-to-end processes
Using all of the information collected to optimise the version already in place under control of the process owner.

Without a detailed understanding of how your business runs, you will be unable to identify true opportunities for improvement, and thus opportunities to impress your customers.

2. Maintain your processes

Regularly reviewing and updating your processes is crucial to ongoing success – when a customer encounters an issue, more often than not it’s a result of existing business processes that have been interrupted or gone wrong. To make matters worse, if your response time is delayed because you are unaware of the error, the outdated function can have a domino-effect on other processes while impacting more and more customers as you work to find the root of the problem.

This ‘set and forget’ mindset will lead to information becoming out-of-date, meaning your business is susceptible to bottlenecks; tasks performed incorrectly; non-compliance or others errors that negatively impact the customer. It’s imperative to keep processes up-to-date, not only for the ease of everyday operations, but for customer satisfaction too.

3. Understand your customer

The customer journey is an essential tool in understanding how your customer interacts with your product, service, or offering – without it, your business is flying blind. However, it is important to remember that journey modeling is critical across all personas, not just the customer. This includes patients, citizens, employees, and the end-user.

If all journeys are labeled ‘customer,’ then global organizations could be losing advantage by breaking the connection to crucial personas. With this, the journey allows disruptors an outside-in view of how real people connect with its business processes, giving them a competitive advantage to create seamless, user-friendly interactions.

The journey unlocks insights through a digitally-designed overview of various touchpoints, meaning your business has the flexibility to fine-tune these touchpoints as the needs of the customer changes. Anticipating the future needs and questions of your customers will give you a headstart in finding solutions to unforeseen problems, meaning you can address bumps in the road almost before they happen!

4. Standardise information

As mentioned earlier, a side effect of growing a business is a lack of organisational structure – this can become evident in information ownership and the processes through which information is shared, leading to communication bottlenecks and distorted, or lack of shared knowledge.

When information is exchanged across functions with varying formats – misinterpretation breeds. Miscommunication leads to a lack of efficiency and heightens the risk of providing the wrong information to customers – a surefire way to damage customer satisfaction.

It’s an age-old saying, but communication is key. Providing employees a clear and focused vision through standardised information equips every worker with the tools they need to do their job effectively. A knowledge repository is an excellent way to ensure all communications are updated and streamlined in terms of accessibility and format, improving communication efficiency and making it easier to grow your team when the time comes.

5. Automate tasks

As your business grows bigger, the customer demand for your offering will too. While this is an exciting stage, it also comes with an increased risk of damaging customer satisfaction through trial and error of new business processes for a larger scale.

Things like losing information between different working environments, or even non-process challenges such as a critical team member being sick can leave your business vulnerable to delays, which in turn, damage customer satisfaction.

Automating key tasks eliminates this risk by reducing the number of repetitive, time-consuming, error-prone and potentially costly manual behaviours within a process. Before implementing automation, remember it’s a journey – not a quick fix. Processes require scrutinous optimisation before the automation stage, or you will just end up doing the wrong thing faster.